Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Letters From America: Burns Night

Hello Everyone,

Sunday was Burns Night, a day to commemorate the Scottish National Poet Robert Burns, where Scots will generally celebrate with a Burns Supper. This is a meal consisting of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. For everyone else, that is Haggis, turnips and potatoes. So, as all of my American friends had never had one, I thought I would attempt to cook one for them. It wasn't as good as I would have in Scotland, but it turned out pretty well.

I had a little problem getting my hand on Haggis. It turns out that, due to the presence of sheep lung, the USA has a ban on the import of it. So, wherever I looked, it would not be the kind of Haggis that you can get at home. However, after looking in every likely shop, Walmart, the World Market etc., there was none to be found. I eventually got it by phoning up one of the local Irish pubs, and asking if I could get a take-away portion, which they were very kind to provide. I think I may be making another stop at this pub at some point, even if I can't order a drink, it has a sign pointing my way to Glasgow and how many miles it is. I even saw someone in a kilt. 

We all had a great time, and everyone seemed to enjoy the food. All my friends that came tried some Haggis, and they actually liked it! We read some Burns poetry and listened to Scottish music. We even did some Scottish Country Dancing. 

A pretty good night, exactly what Burns night should be about. Having a laugh and enjoying yourself with friends, while celebrating some Scottish history and culture. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Five on Friday

Hello Everyone, 

It's time for Five on Friday, hosted by AprilDarciChristina and Natasha. You should go check these lovely ladies out, I absolutely love reading their blogs.

This week is some attempts of mine to try out photos on my GoPro. You can decide how they turned out.


We came out of our class at the gym on Wednesday to a sight very similar to this, so once I got back to my room, I headed back out, determined to get some photos of the snow in the desert. 


Trying my hand at a selfie with the GoPro. Haven't quite got it yet, but getting there. And the scarf I borrowed off my roommate. And yes, it is a Gryffindor scarf. I'm proud of my house okay?!


The little river/pond thing round the back of the dorm. I thought it was pretty with all the snow. 


Okay, I cheated a little with this one, but I really like this series of photos. I tried the Time Lapse feature this time, and although they didn't turn out exactly as I expected, I just really love them. And yes, I am doing what you're all thinking. I am dancing in the snow. 


Again, I cheated. The lighting isn't quite as good as I would have liked in these ones, but I'm playing Hide and Seek with myself! I think it's cute, and wanted to share it with you. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Planning Blog Posts

Hello Everyone, 

Planning blog posts takes a lot of my time. I like to start my planning on Saturday, where I decide on my subject matter for the week, and write it down using this planner by Fee, Make Up Savvy, which you can find here. I love this planner as it has boxes to tick when I have finished each stage of a post: writing it, choosing and editing a photo for it, and scheduling it. My aim is to be much more organised with my blog, hopefully getting ahead with my posts at some point. I try to get as much of my writing done during the weekend, freeing up my week for any reading, homework or tests that I have. I try to jot down my initial ideas about the posts in a notebook, getting the basic structure or outline sorted out. Then, I will write the post. I edit while I am typing it out, and then will re-edit as much as I can when I've got the picture(s) in. 

Sometimes I'll have a theme for the week, a subject I want to discuss in more than one post. Most of my travels are like that. I want to record as much as possible so I will split it up into logical sections. If there isn't a theme for the week, then I have some basic structure that are permanent features. Motivate Monday and Five on Friday are my quick and easy posts (although Five on Friday I don't always get around to doing). The ones that require more thought are the others, Tuesday to Thursday. They can be anything I want them to be. Sometimes deciding what to write about is difficult as there is so much choice. However, the more I do it, the easier it gets. I get inspiration from other blogs, articles I read, or conversations I have with one another. Sometimes an issue plays in my mind for weeks, or even months, before I write about it. 

A lot of the time I'll have lots of ideas of post series, or post ideas that never make it to print (online print). They are often something a bit off the wall and not achievable. But there are some that have managed to make it at least for a short while. You can find some of them in the sidebar in my past posts. Generally, I tend to write on subjects that I've been reading about, so a series isn't always possible. 

I hope this post has given you a little insight into how I plan and write blog posts. It may give you some ideas on how you could write posts, or writing an essay for uni. (I use the same basic principle when writing my own university work, without the pictures of course). 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Hello Everyone, 

I originally had another post planned for today, but with things on my mind, I decided to draft it, and have another one today. It's a subject I haven't talked about before, but has been weighing on my mind pretty heavily recently. Alcohol. 

On New Year, I drank pretty heavily. In fact, I drank so much that I still don't remember everything that happened. I was walked home by my friend's mum, and my mum put me to bed. The day after was one of the worst of my life. This wasn't just the hangover nausea that made it bad, although it didn't help. It was the emotional stress that I had. I felt like I had lost control over everything. My body. My mind. Everything I hold dear to myself. I had put my family through a horrible night. My mum and dad especially. I put my dad onto the couch, and worried the hell out of my mum. This may sound like a wholly middle class problem. I am not the worst, and I am not pretending to be. I know that it isn't as bad as some people's struggles with alcohol. I am the furthest thing from an alcoholic, and I am not suggesting that I have a problem with it. I just had a bad experience, and it has affected me. 

The loss of control over yourself is not something I find fun. I have never found it fun. Getting drunk never appealed to me, much like jumping off a cliff doesn't appeal to anyone generally. So I would occasionally have a couple of drinks to loosen up when I went out with friends, and we'd have a good time. However, going to America perhaps meant that I didn't drink, and I missed going into bars and having fun with friends and this perhaps ended up meaning that I associated drinking with having fun. So when I got home I went out and got a little bit excited about the fact I could drink again. New Year was the start of that. 

I thought I could move on from it. Don't go out for a while. No parties. Nothing. Go sober for a while, and see where it takes me. I'm not saying I'll never drink again, but never more than one. And not until I am able to smell alcohol without gagging. This will be a personal journey for me, and I don't know what I will end up doing. One thing I can say is that I will never get in that state again. I was lucky that I was in a place that someone could look after me, and make sure I got home in time. 

Last semester at UNM, two girls were killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Drink can cause so many problems if you are not safe about it. Know your limits. Don't drink and drive ever. Have at least one sober person in a group. Before you go to bed, drink three large glasses of water. Make sure you mix up your drinks with water, try every third drink being a soft drink or water. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Moving out

Hello Everyone, 

In case you didn't know, I moved back into my room in the UNM dorms and started classes again. There has been a huge increase of work and reading that I have to do since last semester, but I have just enough time to get it all done. As long as I am willing to work hard. And don't get too stressed. 

I have been moving in an out of rooms for a while now, and while I haven't always been too good at packing and making priorities, I am much better at it than I was. One tip I have learned is when packing, with almost every item (apart from underwear), ask yourself, do I need it? Have I got anything else like it? This is especially useful when you have too many things to fit into your case, or need to lose some weight from it. If it isn't completely necessary, then don't take it.

Less is always more, if you can buy something where ever you are going, do that. This means you have more room in your suitcase for things that you may not be able to buy.

Hand-luggage is pretty important. If you can, have one smaller bag with everything you're going to need for the travelling, inside a larger bag, and once you are on the plane, or whatever mode of transport you are using, take it out of the larger bag, leaving you able to stow it out of your way for the entirety of the journey.

I hope these couple of tips help you if you're packing for a trip at some point.

Motivate Monday

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review: The Blood of Olympus

Hello Everyone, 

I have finally got my hands on the last of the 'Heroes of Olympus' series, and I have to say I loved it. It was a remarkably adult finale to the series considering its firm position in the children's section of the bookshops and libraries. The story line, although fantastic, is not the starring point of the series. That is reserved for the development of the characters. I will outline my favourite and my most problematic characters that I found throughout the series. 

Looking back on the characters of Percy and Annabeth, who are the only ones to continue to this series from the last in any major capacity, Annabeth is the only one who is not allowed as much development space as the others. Percy on the other hand remains an incredibly relate-able character for young boys wanting to branch out their reading to some more adult books. Annabeth's lack of development for me was because she was not allowed as much text space as the others.

Jason was a bit of a hit-or-a-miss character for me. Most of the time he seemed a bit unrealistic, there was too much confusion in everything he did. He simultaneously had too much responsibility, and too little. The only times I truly appreciated him as a character was when he interacted with both Percy and his girlfriend Piper. In these moments, he was really vulnerable, letting his walls of 'Roman-ness' you could call it, down. His relationship with Percy was founded in the fact that they were both sons of the 'Big Three', meaning that a lot was expected of them, which I related to the most.  

The most intriguing character has to be Nico DiAngelo. He represents that dark questioning insecure part within ourselves that we all have. He is truly a tragic hero that I have ever read about. He gives us the truest message in the entire series. In acknowledging yourself for who you are, warts and all and accepting it, you will push past the darkness of despair, and other will accept you too.

The entire group reflected any group of friends in the modern world with all the different dynamics and histories. There are the couples of course, with all the stresses that causes . And the girls, being the minority group, are especially close as only girls can be. In fact, the boys are more clique-ey than the girls, with district groups, but with more camaraderie that guys have. They rag on each other more and jesting insults, hiding their feelings. Going between all the groups is Piper- smoothing feelings and working through it with her peace making abilities and empathy and love for everyone involved. (Every group has to have one person like that).

Leo, the most likely to be in trouble (also the most likely to get out of it) is the best character. With an upbeat sense of humour, and his inability to let anything go, he is the highlight of the group. His ending leaves more questions than answers (and with Percy and Annabeth heading to college in New Rome, so out of the picture for a while) so is Leo going to be the future for the Percy Jackson universe? Or perhaps Reyna, the Roman Praetor with a mysterious past who must look past the camp's boundaries to find love.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

How to survive a Road Trip

Hello Everyone, 

I recently went on a road trip from Allentown, Pennsylvania to Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is about 28 hours of driving. That's a long time to be stuck in a car. So, I've compiled a few survival techniques that I picked up to get someone through this, or another long road trip. 

1. Don't rely on electronic devices. Eventually they will run out of charge, most likely the least opportune time for this to happen. Have with you an actual book, or a set of cards to play with someone so as to save charge on these things.

2. Snack. Often. You are unlikely to have normal meal times as it will depend on where you are able to stop, so make sure you have lots of snacking items to keep you going until you are able to stop. 

3. Have a really good playlist. This is especially important for the person driving, as it is the only thing they can do to pass the time while driving. It gives the passengers something to bond over, and don't be afraid to turn the volume up loud and sing along. 

4. Swap seats/move around. Do this as much as possible as it breaks up the journey if you are in different places. Sitting in one place slows the time down, and you are much more likely to get bored. 

5. Toilet break. Every time you stop is an opportunity to take a toilet break. By doing this, you are much less likely to be caught short at a point in the journey when there aren't any rest-stops/service stations nearby for you to use. 

6. Get as much sleep as you can. If you do what we did on my road trip, and drive through the night, it is imperative to get as much sleep as possible when you can, as tiredness on the road can be fatal. 

7. Have fun. Road trips can be an amazing bonding time for you and your friends. Make sure you take advantage of it. Be silly, laugh often, and the time will fly by. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Losing my way

Hello Everyone, 

I must admit, I lost my way with my blog. Other things got in my way and posting stopped being my biggest priority. I got lazy you could say. I needed some time away to get my head on straight. So that's what I did this Christmas. 

I don't want to be posting half-assed posts on this space. I want to concentrate more on the words I put out into the world and spend time considering them. The blogs I love to read do this, and it shows. To develop my own writing and style is why I started this blog in the first place (as well as bit of fun).

My biggest problem is trying to do too much at one time rather than concentrating my efforts on one thing at a time. I have to work on this, and it will be one of my main goals coming up for the one year anniversary for starting this blog.

At the time of drafting this post, I am on a road trip from Pennsylvania to Albuquerque, so I have a lot of time to think and write (and take some pictures of course). Being forced to do this is good because although Christmas was my time to reflect on things that have happened in my life, it was difficult as I spent a lot of time doing things and seeing people (essentially trying to fit five months into four weeks). This is time where all I have to do is think (as trying to save charge on electronic items leaves me a lot of time in my own head). I have no-where to be or go immediately. I'll get there when I get there.

The main thing coming out of all these thoughts buzzing around in my head is that although I want my blog to ultimately mean something, more importantly, I want it to be a reflection of me. I am still changing and discovering who I am and who I want to be, so I want my blog to reflect that. When I need to update it, I will, until I am happy with it. This may take years, but I'll get there.

Rather than write about things I don't know about, I want to write about what I am interested in, and what I know, or my experiences of it (whatever 'it' is). If I see or hear about something that gets me thinking, I may write about my thoughts here. I am a pretty full person with many interests, which can seem eclectic at times, but if you'll stick with me it will all make sense eventually. I love writing, and having this little space on the internet where I am free to do just that makes me so happy. I hope it makes you happy reading it.